Added some new blog pages

I just added some new pages to my blog. These are from my old blog when I taught Reading to 6th graders.

They are titled:

Reading Tools

Grammar Practice

Comprehension Skills

Comprehension Strategies

Linky Link Parties

CAFE/Daily 5

Maybe you can find something beneficial. 🙂

Read and Write 180-Day 44

Wednesday, October 12. 2011

Great day, great day…..

Reviewed english with labeling our sentence-they are getting goooooood!! 2 student have already learned the helping verb song (along with myself-I’m patting myself on the back right now!).

They worked in groups to sort their word study words. Some sorted by phonics patterns, some by meanings.

I actually had time to read aloud -6th Grade Can Really Kill You. We are at the part very near the end of the book where Helen’s dad is about to tell Helen’s mom that she is going to get special help in school for her reading troubles. We’ve spent so much time with Helen this year that I will miss her when we finish the book(I almost always feel this way at the end of a good book!). I think some of the kids will miss her, too. 🙂 We’ve still been working on our predictions and giving reasons why we make certain predictions.

We read 2 more pages of Old Yeller from our Scott Foresman Reading Street series-I am trying to set a purpose for reading each day before we read. Today I had them write 6 words down that we would find in our reading and think about their meanings. As we read, we confirmed the meaning or changed the meaning depending on what context they were used in.

I had them write a summary about the 2 pages after we read them. Some  lots of them are still having a hard time writing “short” summaries. These are some of the problems that I see with what some of the kids are writing:

1. Their summary is not a true reflection of what they read(today’s summary included information from yesterday’s reading)

2. Sequence is not too good

3. The flow of writing is not good(SEVERAL)

4. Too much information is given

So we will continue to practice writing summaries. I’m beginning to think this is another thing that needs to be done individually since there are so many different things they are doing incorrectly. I definitely need more time in the day!!!! 🙂 But, I truly believe that summarizing will help many of them with their comprehension and ability to think about what they have read!

We had SO much time today to do FAB FIVE! Over an hour in each class-woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, let me show you some pictures of my conferring notebook where I keep the data on the kids.

 Here is a picture of the front of my conferring notebook.

 This is the inside of my conferring notebook. One tab is for appointments (monthly calendar and keeping track sheet). I am finding that it is easier just to have the kids put their name on our big calendar for appointments and me not recording it on the smaller calendar in notebook. The big calendar is right near my small group table so I can see it from where I sit. 🙂


 Here is our big calendar on the bulletin board right near my reading table. The kids write their name on the date of our next scheduled conference after they leave our conference.

 This is the keeping track sheet where I can keep up with (at a glance) who I have conferenced with when. I can’t wait to see it fill up-hopefully that will mean that the kids are becoming critical readers! 🙂

 Each student has a tab divider where I keep the CAFE reading menu, my notes sheet for our conferences, and all of their data (ARMT scores from previous year, writing sample, etc….) When we choose a goal for them from the CAFE menu, I am highlighting it on their sheet in my notebook.

 This is my notes sheet where I record a little of what we talked about, the book they are currently reading, the area of focus, and the goal/plan for them to work on. I covered up this student’s name (privacy), but you can see what I wrote during/after our conference.

 Here is the reading goal sheet that each student keeps in their binder. They fill this out during our conference so they will know and be able to refer to exactly what they are working on.

Hope that gives you a little idea of how I am “trying” to run my individual conferences. I think I was able to conference with about 8-10 students total today between my 2 classes. Of course, I didn’t do any small group instruction. But I’m thinking (danger alert!) that once I meet with all of the students for the 1st time that the conferences after these will not last as long.

It was a great day!! Obviously, I don’t have success stories for all of my students but I did have 2 students tell me about the same thing.

Teacher(me): Tell me about yourself as a reader.

Student: Sometimes I have a hard time reading the words or knowing what they mean, but I think I am better at understanding what I read now.

Teacher: Why? What has helped you improve?

Student: I can visualize the story more and see what’s happening-it makes me like it more and understand it better.



Read and Write 180-Day 35

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today was english test day…need I say more? Let me tell you about the positive and the negative. I’ll start with the negative so we’ll have something to look forward to. 🙂

Negative: My english test is always a 1 page test with about mmmm….15 sentences on it. Today’s test had 3 sections.

Section 1: 4 or 5 sentences to label the dependent clause and the independent clause

Section 2: 5 sentences to label the simple subject, simple predicate, complete subject, and complete predicate

Section 3: 5 sentences to label each word as the part of speech it belongs to

I would say it should take the kids about 20 minutes (at the most) to complete the test.

Are you ready??????? Including the review of english and the test itself we spent 1 hour on english today in once class and 1 hour 20 minutes in the other class.

I know I have already said this in a previous post (or previous postS)

It is taking entirely toooooooo long which takes time away from our reading and writing. I talked with another teacher today to ask their opinion and have decided to shorten the test-maybe only have 2 sentences in each section. OR-I might go ahead and start my Daily Grammar Practice and this will be the ONLY english we do each day each week. Anyway, whatever I decide will be implemented beginning Monday-I CANNOT afford to spend this much time on english each day!!! You would think that english is a foreign language to us and not our native language. 🙂

Positive: I separated the 3 sections of the test onto 3 different sheets of paper for about 6 students in each class to help them focus and not be so overwhelmed. This decision was made after meeting with a parent earlier this week. Also, I let them take the test at my small group table AND I helped each one with the test. Like really helped them. Like gave them a few answers. 🙂

Anywhoo-I’ll let you know what I decide for next week’s plan for english!

We made up some sentence with our spelling words-I am using 10 high frequency words that are being misspelled and misused in their writing. After the test they will go up on our word wall so that they will BE SPELLED AND USED CORRECTLY!!!

We read our passage again and practiced our “reciprocal teaching” in groups. They changed roles today. We will do this again tomorrow before the test so that they will have had 3 jobs in their groups. The jobs are PREDICTOR, QUESTIONER, CONNECTOR, AND SUMMARIZER. I think I might add CLARIFIER onto the CONNECTOR job. It went much smoother today. This is what I overheard while walking around and listening:

1. It is impossible to predict something-we have already read the entire text!

2. I’m having a hard time making a connection to anything in this passage.

So, I think I’ll let the connector also clarify things that need clearing up. 🙂

We did 2 short rounds of FAB FIVE(Daily 5). BUT-I also got 2 mini-lessons in!!!!!!!! Here is what it looked like:

Mini-lesson: Anchor chart for writing a comparing/contrasting essay. (Each class gave me their input, I wrote it on the board, and had a student record it for me on a sheet of notebook paper, then after school I made the actual chart on chart paper)

Round 1-I pulled my 3rd small group this week to finish up our note sheet on our comprehension strategies.

Mini-lesson: We talked about “reading voraciously” or reading A LOT! I had them work with a partner to come up with 2 places they either like to read or just 2 places that you can read. Then they had to think of when they can read. We shared these with me writing them on the board and one of my students recording onto notebook paper-then I made the actual anchor chart after school. (I have to do it this way since I teach 2 classes)

 This is one of our reading goals that I added to our CAFE reading menu board.

Round 2-I pulled my 4th and last small group to finish the comprehension strategy note sheet. I love working with small groups! 🙂

Then I helped 1 of my students with his reading response letter. I love working with individuals EVEN MORE than small groups! 🙂 🙂

Now I’ve got to figure out how to make my small group/individual time about1 hour or a little more!!! HELP! 🙂


Read and Write 180-Day 33

Tuesday, September 27th

Glad to be back at school today! Even though the kids got in trouble yesterday for not transitioning well between classes, they were back in good shape today. 🙂

Our sentence we labeled today was a good one:

Two huge oak trees tower over her house.

Adj. Adj. Adj. N        AV      Prep  PN    N

Then we labeled the simple subject, simple predicate, complete subject, complete predicate, and prepositional phrase.

I think most of them are finally getting the hang of it now! Whew! But I REALLY need to start throwing in some adverbs-these are tricky!

I RE-introduced the complex conjunctions and dependent/independent clauses today. We tried it another week, but it was too much so I went back to reviewing parts of speech and subjects/predicates.

Here is their study sheet for conjunctions and clauses that I gave them today:

Clauses and Conjunctions I hope we can master this by Thursday! 🙂

I gave out report cards today-let’s just say that the only direction that some of us can go is “up”. 🙂 I do have to say that our english grades have gotten considerably better over these last 2 weeks-I think mainly because we stayed with the same stuff to make sure we could do it! I hope that means that we will be english kings and queens by the end of this year! 🙂

I FINALLY introduced our CAFE reading menu board today!!! YEA!!!! I deserve a high five!!! Woohoo!! Yes, I do believe that most teacher who implement the CAFE system in their classrooms introduce it the 1st week of school. And yes that makes me about 6 weeks late with the introduction. But, hey-I just felt like there were other things that we needed to take care of first.

This is how I introduced the CAFE menu board. I made CAFE cards that had all of our standards/strategies/skills on them. 40 in all. I gave each group of students 4 cards. They had to read them, discuss them, and TRY to decide what category they would fit in on the board: Comprehension/Awareness/Fluency/Expanding Vocabulary

Then we went through each one and actually put it in its place on the board. Here are the cards that I printed:

CAFE Cards

This is a picture of what our board looked like after we put the cards on the board:




 Expanding Vocabulary

Now, I will take all of these cards back off of our CAFE reading menu board and put them back up a couple at a time as we focus on the skills/standards/strategies. How long will that take me???? I still need to read up on this here CAFE system!!!! 🙂

Next week I plan on conferring with all 47 student to decide on a reading goal for each one of them to work towards. Now, how in the-I mean how do we decide on just 1 goal? How do we decide which one would be best for each student? Like I said-I have GOT to read up some more on this system. But let me tell you-I am so excited about this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m also giddy about the fact that I did small group instruction today!!!!!! 🙂 I can only realistically get to 2 groups each day (this is when I’m not conferring with individual students) so what we did today was this:

Round 1-They could read to self or work on writing. I worked with 1 small group-we finished our list of comprehension strategies and definitions.

Mini-lesson back on the rug-I explained how small group instruction is really informal-we don’t have to raise our hands-it’s just like having a dinner conversation-we join in the conversation while minding our manners. 🙂

Round 2-They could read to self or work on writing. I worked with 1 more small group-same thing.

Mini-lesson back on the rug-I let them share something from their reading or writing.

Love, love, love, love small group instruction. The question is-CAN I KEEP IT UP? WILL I HAVE TIME FOR IT EACH DAY?

Stay tuned to find out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

Literacy cafe now serving

My classroom door this year is going to be simple. I’ve put diecut letters that say-“Welcome to our Literacy Cafe”. Then I’m going to put 4 simple posters on the bottom half of the door. Each poster will say-Now Serving Reading Lunch, etc. I have uploaded the posters onto my CAFE/Daily 5 page. Here is a screenshot of what they look like.

Hop over to my CAFE/Daily 5 page if you want to print them. I uploaded them as word and pdf documents so you can make changes if you want to.

CAFE small group

I’m still not sure what my plan of action is going to be this year concerning small group instruction. Our reading program, Reading Street, calls for a version of leveled guided reading. This is what their plan looks like:

Scott Foresman Reading Street small group reading

1. Kids are grouped according to reading level ability

2. They are all reading the same leveled reader within their group during small group instruction. Essentially, you read with the group of kids, show them how to fill out a worksheet, send them out to fill out the worksheet, maybe meet with them again to go over the worksheet-then the process starts all over

3. “Most” of the provided leveled readers are non-fiction (and not too interesting, I might add!). They are not easy to read, and I really haven’t seen too much of a difference between the below level and on grade level ones

4. Kids can be re-assessed every 6 weeks and moved into different groups based on the assessment

CAFE small group reading

1. Kids are grouped according to the reading strategy that they need help with (visualizing, summarizing, etc)

2. They are all reading their own independent books(that they have chosen). You teach them what they need to know at that given time-this could be going back over a whole class lesson that you feel they need again, showing them a different way to use a certain strategy, practicing a strategy for mastery, etc.

3. Since they are reading books they have chosen, they are reading on their level of comfort

4. Kids can be changed from group to group whenever you feel they have mastered a strategy-this can be done OFTEN


So, having said all of that I’m not sure how I want to design my small group instruction. I see pros and cons of both types! (Isn’t this always the case???) 🙂

It would be EASY to follow the Reading Street plan because it is already layed out for you-day by day by day…. However, how did those people that created that plan know my kids? Did they get together with them over the summer and see what they needed and create a plan based on that? NO! So what if I follow the small group daily plan and just waste their time??? What is the benefit in that?

On the other hand, if I truly want to teach each child what THEY need to know and practice, I would be planning EVERY DAY! WOW! Would that be too time consuming? There’s already so much to do anyway. Hmmmm…..

Maybe I should do this (since this whole post is my thinking out loud):

1. Definitely group the kids according to what they need to work on and what they need help with 

2. Sometimes use the leveled readers (if they support what I am teaching the kids), sometimes use magazines, articles, poems, essays, sometimes let them use their choice books-vary it depending on what I’m doing with them during group time

3. Continuously observe and talk with individual students (this is informal assessment) to be able to know what group they need to be in-try for a weekly reflection time on my part for all of my students to make sure that they are not part of a group working on a strategy that they have already mastered

4. Talk to the kids about what they think they need to work on-hopefully this will not blow their minds since I will begin week 1 of school talking to the kids!!!

I have high hopes in reaching every child this year and guiding them from where they are to where they need to be!

CAFE Keeping Track

I added a “Keeping Track” form to my CAFE/Daily 5 page. This is the form that I will use to keep track of when I have conferred with students about their reading and writing. Here is a screenshot:

If you have not bought the CAFE book and The Daily 5 by The Sisters, you need to stop what you are doing and get on with it!!! They are better than sliced bread!!! 🙂

Go on over to right now and click on “Buy”.


CAFE cards

I just found a teacher’s blog where she has created CAFE cards that go along with the upper grades CAFE menu. I’m thinking these cards would be great for the kids to glue in their readers notebooks when I teach mini-lessons!! That way they will have a reference to always refer to if they need to.

They are very visual so maybe they could even be added to the CAFE board beside the sentence strip after a mini-lesson.